Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goodbye January

January now fades away.

I've got a game project I'm super excited to reveal, so keep an eye out.
Uninteresting teaser:

Yes indeed. A title screen. I shall now strut off the stage, exit right, with the classiness of a true gentleman and the irony of a US Senator's philanthropic efforts.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tits In Games

Recently I've noticed a lot of controversy over sex appeal in games. I read one particular article about it on IGN the other day, and it got me thinking. So, here's my opinion.

Ultimately, It seems there's one point everyone is missing.

But before I talk directly on that, I'd like to share a moment from the extremely tasteful visual novel Katawa Shoujo:
The main character is attending a high school for the disabled. He has a heart condition, and originally feels it unfair that he was put there. When he first joins he has difficulty getting to know the other students because he doesn't know how to regard their disabilities. One day after class he stays in with his teacher. The main character brings up that it's difficult to either avoid or bring up the subject of the other person's disability. He feels like it's a big deal and he doesn't know how to address it. The teacher simply tells him this( I quote roughly ): "It's only a big deal if you make it one. If you can look past it then you'll be able to see everything else."

... See where I'm going with this? This sexualization is only a big deal because people are making it one. Yes, shame on those unethical marketers who take advantage of your manipulable libidos. But ultimately, you'll be the one who sits there gawking at that girl with her goods flaunted. Some girls have big chests or curvy hips, so what?

Look past it,
If you don't like it, make it clear that you don't care for it.
Make it clear that you don't want your characters' personalities compromised for sex appeal.
Make it clear that you could care less about bodacious curves.
Make it clear that you desire artistic value rather than titillation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Next-Gen Gaming, how I see it. Part 2

(this is part 2 in a series about what I envision the next generation of gaming to be. For part 1, click here.)

So! It's been a while. Two glorious debates later I've come out with refreshed and further refined opinions. First I'll start off with an addendum to my Part 1 of this series, then we'll move right on along.

After speculation, I realized that what I was asking for is practically already here. And guess who's made it? Microsoft. I had completely forgotten about XNA, which lets you create games for both PC and Xbox. It's pretty much exactly what I was envisioning for it to be, too. In theory, it shouldn't be too hard for Microsoft to make this leap for their full development platform. If they do end up making this jump, I think there will be huge benefits for both developers and players.

But on the other hand, Steam. Is Microsoft ready to compete with Steam? Most PC gamers, as well as I, would agree that "Games For Windows" sucks. I think if Microsoft wants to go this route they'll have to revise their approach in order to be successful.

I have also realized it is quite unlikely that either Nintendo or Sony will follow suit. I'm certain Nintendo wouldn't, in fact. So in a conclusion to that I'll leave it as saying that it's a great opportunity for Microsoft.

Now back to the good part!
It's time for digital downloads. The more I've thought about this the more controversial I feel this subject is. On one hand, convenience, streamlining, conserving resources. On the other, an entire sub-industry of middlemen.

If all game content went digital companies like GameStop would be utterly destroyed, it would be their doom. They're a middleman.

They do marketing and junk, and they give people jobs. But I'm not going to argue about such political shit(excuse the profanity), because that doesn't matter here. What I'm talking about is "the next step forward". The guys at GameStop, EB Games, etc. can go get jobs elsewhere, sorry. And I'll tell you why.

First and foremost, the middleman. Middlemen suck. They muddy things up, raise prices, and generally become another barrier between you and the source. They exist to leech profits by bringing things from one party to another. But guess what? We don't need that anymore. Internet connectivity can bring you content straight from a distribution channel like WiiWare, Xbox Marketplace, or Playstation Store.

Also, cutting out the middleman helps extent profits straight to the developers. When the developers get more profit... Guess what? Good things, you can hope. Of course, this means any game you buy will be full-priced. But, as the theory goes, if the developers get more profits they'll be able to lower the prices of their games. That may not become a reality, though. However, I do believe there will be more of a pressure for publishers to put out cheaper games if that happens, especially because of the rising popularity of indie games. That's a subject for another day, though.

Next is physical media. Since we can reason that buying game discs is no longer necessary, the material is simply a waste. Manuals are no longer necessary. It's a waste of plastic, a waste of paper, and a waste of a disc. Some people say "it's a nice presentation", but I'd argue an interactive panorama full of videos, trailers, review, info, etc is a much better presentation for a potential buyer.

Then there's the issue of "ownership" with physical, that people want their physical media because it makes them feel like they truly own the game. Well, it's an illusion, I'd say. It's perfectly plausible that a company like Microsoft could deactivate your account or brick your Xbox on a whim. Does that happen? No. It's bad for business, which should be enough a reason to end that argument there. Also, you still do technically own the storage media in the same way. Except now all your games are clumped together on a hard disk rather than a DVD. Oh well? My point here is that remote control of your console software was inevitable when internet connectivity came along.

Oh yes, and. There'd be no more clutter. No more "losing games". All your purchases would be backed up to your account, of course, so you don't need to worry about that! Re-download as much as you need to. The downside, of course, is that you will no longer be able to let people borrow your games. Perhaps some "trade" system may be implemented by console makers to remedy this, but I'm not too confident in that. So in this case it becomes a personal trade-off, of course. How many games do you really trade and borrow out? For me it honestly isn't many.

So to recap:

  1. No more middleman
  2. Better for developers
  3. Convenience
  4. Not wasting materials(better for the environment)
  5. Practically no "ownership" loss
  6. Can't lose games, better service
  7. No clutter
  8. Potentially lower prices
  1. No trading
  2. Retailers might go out of business
  3. No used games
  4. Higher prices(due to pt. 1 and 3)
  5. Lost marketing from retailers

Weigh it for yourself, of course, but you can see which side I lay on, and I hope my argument was effective in persuading those of you who remain skeptical.

Thanks extend to Timothy Hsu, aka sonicblastiose and editor of The Mediocrity Codex, for helping me refine my ideas over an intense twitter-argument.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Next-Gen Gaming, how I see it. Part 1

The console scene is something I am both intimately connected to and irrevocably separated from. Game consoles represent gaming in it's entirety for most people, so for that I must indeed care about it. But yet, I personally am not one who particularly favors them nor has the kind of money to have my own and buy games for, etc.

In this generation, we've seen amazing leaps. More so, in my opinion, than any of the previous console generations. And it's all thanks to internet connectivity, of course. We have networked gaming, DLC, patching(of both games and the system itself), and downloadable games.(don't forget XBLIG and XNA) I think another day I'll go over how fantastic these features are and how these systems' potential is being missed currently, but that's for another day. Today I want to talk about what I'd like to see be part of the future of console gaming.

I'd like to see complete integration with PCs. First and foremost, a gaming console is a computer. Moreso than ever, in fact. They have similar components that run programs/games in an identical fashion that PC computers do. What I would like to see in the next generation is games running on both PC and console, no porting.

For instance, Microsoft could make the next Xbox be a special version of a Windows computer specifically geared towards playing games and being a home entertainment center.(signs actually show that this is a possibility!) However, for Sony and Nintendo this might not be so easy. They certainly won't want to embed Windows on their consoles, never mind the fact that Microsoft might not allow it if they can. Linux/Unix is of course always a possibility, seeing as both the PS3 and Wii are based on it already, form what I've heard. But then of course there's the issue that most people won't want to use Linux, never mind the fact that they might not have the technical skill or desire to do it themselves. For this instance I can see Nintendo and Sony releasing special flavors of the OS which mirrors the OS they end up putting on the console. Issue here is that might be effort they're not willing to put in.

Ultimately there are several reasons to unify PC and console. Most importantly from my perspective is the greater ease put on developers. It would be much easier to test a game because they'd be able to test it right from their development computer and there would be no hassle in investing in special development tools. This system would also make digital downloads much easier. Most people on PCs already prefer if not exclusively demand digital downloads, which is supported by the fact that hard drives are cheap and accessible.

Now, with this will also come a host of issues. For one, piracy and hacking. There will be lots of worry for publishers on piracy, and lots of worries for players on hacking. Well, it happens already--Consoles are computers, like I said. People have created plenty of methods for hacking and pirating on current-gen consoles. If you're seeking solutions for these problems, go ask the good 'ol guys at Valve, I'm sure they'll have fantastic advice to give on the subject.

Then of course is fragmentation(of hardware specs), arguably PC's greatest issue. My answer to this, put simply, is that it isn't that much of an issue. Remember, I'm not saying getting rid of consoles. I'm saying still make consoles, but much more like a "standard issue" console-PC that comes built and ready to play games, etc. For people who don't want to deal with specs, they simply won't have to.

I can already tell that many people would want this on a console still, and that's to be expected. But merging the console and PC software opens up the vast and ever-hungry market of PC gamers, many of which beg and beg for more games to be released on it. This does two things, it gives them what they want(and gives you money, what you want, publishers), and as a result gives PC gamers the satisfaction they desire and henceforth feel much better about what you offer as a company, which I think is a really big plus.

And that sums up my "Part 1" of this series: Merge PC and console software.

Microsoft is in absolutely the best position to make this leap, and I'm cheering for them to do this. It will benefit them and the players alike, give them a big edge on the competition, and so on and so forth.

Have a nice day, everybody~

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 4: Resources

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.) 

The Samaric people are highly varied and diverse. This diversity has cultivated from the diverse landscapes present in Samar, as detailed on the second day of our Valgan exploration.

Above all for the Samaric people, the key currency is time. In all but Malsad, work is key. It is not uncommon to enter servitude to pay off a debt or obtain an item of interest from someone. Now bear in mind, a majority of the Samaric people are not materialistic; they are pragmatic and practical. For instance, many Samaric "inns" do not require a trade of currency to stay in one of their rooms, but rather you do work for them so long as you stay. That is the way of things.

Except for Malsad and the trade cities, of course, where currency has become king in the recent decades. First ordained and now regulated by the "Divine Order" of Malsad, their money consists of brass coins adorned with the mark of the gods. Due to this, there is a prevalence of materialism and greed in what are formally known as the "trade cities". Outsiders of the trade cities, though, often detest their ways, and it is not uncommon to hear trade cities referred to with slanderous names.

Beyond the currencies of trade, the land of Samar is generally bountiful in food and water.

In the hilly region of Borg there is little farming of crops. Wild berries are often gathered and picked, which forms a staple food of the Borg peoples' culture. They also sparingly herd manners of bovine-esque animals in ranches, which are used for milk and meat. Rivers are abundant in Borg, which make up their main source of water. Borg has very few mineral resources, so it is often left alone by the Malsads.

Figan is the least populated of all the Samaric regions, and for good reason. While the rainforests are lush and plentiful with food, they are immensely dangerous. The northwestern marshes are sparse both in terms of vegetation and in animal life. All manners of slimy critters, parasites, insects, and scum-dwelling fish make their homes there. This greatly impacts the lives of residents of Figan, as you may imagine, and is precisely why reptilians often make their home here, both for the lack of people and for the abundance of suitable foods.

Due to Malsad's immense population and industrialization, it imports most of it's food from farms neighboring other regions's trade cities. Malsad was once rich with mineral mines, but they have since been dug out and made into jewelry, weapons, machines, and etc.

Kahir's landscape teems with all manners of wildlife. The people of Kahir namely live off of eating small rodent and swine-like animals. Insects are also a major staple food. The people of Kahir collect rain water from the treetops with special mechanisms which funnel water from above down through a tube. In some senses, it is the upside-down construct of a well. Kahir's east island, which borders Malsad, has been terraformed by the Malsads into their perfect island for farming. A major bridge connects this island to Malsad, and on each side of it a major trade city.

And once again we will end things off talking about Vendus. Vegetables form the majority of their diet, both on the mainland on on the peninsula, although the staple vegetables vary between the two. As in Borg, Vendus relies on the many rivers for their water. On the peninsula, where there are less rivers, rain water is often collected and stored in large urns for their water supply. The northern mountains and receding area are extremely plentiful in minerals, all of which Malsad values. There is an ongoing conflict in Vendus over these mining operations, which often causes a ruckus for the towns nearby as well as the traffic of the transport carriers. Due to this, there is much prejudice towards the Malsads in Vendus.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 3: Temple of the Gods

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.) 

For earth torn asunder,
Homestead gone a-blunder,
Forever shall our spirits stay,
commit to eternal pray.

Temple of the Gods,
Cradle of the Earth,
Under the shadow of Uweka cast,
our fate tied to gray stone brass.

Yorund dast Valir.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2: Geography and Climate

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.)

Map of the Samar province of ValgaP.S. Scans and digital art coming soon

For the length of this World Building Challenge I will be focusing on the province of Samar in the world of Valga. Samar is split up into five regions: Borg, Figan, Malsad, Vendus, and Kahir.

Borg is a hilly and somewhat dry region of Samar. To its west are the arid plains and dry beaches. The east is covered with long stretches of rolling hills and winding rivers. Its mild climate, abundance of rivers, and generous vegetation has led to it becoming a densely populated region. The capitol city of Borg is located along the banks of it's large central lake, depicted in the map above. To its south is a large mountain range which stretches for the better part of the land mass, marking the southern border of Samar.

Figan, contrary to Borg, is a sparsely populated region. To its southeast are dense rainforest-like forests and particularly humid weather. Its climate cultivates all manners of spectacular creatures, but many find them to be rather... voracious. To the northwest of the Figan islands is a more marsh-like environment, a perfect home for many reptilians and the like. The populace here is sparse, but it does exist. To the far east are a small set of recently discovered islands which no explorer has yet returned to recount upon.

Malsad is the self-proclaimed "royal capitol" of the Samar province.(more on that later) Malsad features the heaviest population of the entire province and nearly the entire island is covered in buildings. In the center of Malsad are a group of mountains and a great rivers which runs down to the southern coast.

Kahir is densely forested and receives rain for much of the year. Nearly the entire island is covered in trees and flora, and it teems with wildlife. The intense thickness of the forest seldom allows light to pierce the canopies, and often the forest floor is nearly completely dry. The people of Kahir often live in seclusion.

Finally is Vendus. The northern half of Vendus is rocky and mountainous. To the north are a great mountain range that is said to be impossible to cross, and as such it marks the northern border of Samar. Many rivers flow down from the frigid ice caps of the Vendus mountains, giving the central section of the region healthy vegetation and plentiful grasslands. The southern section of Vendus, its long-reaching peninsula, shares a partial representation of Kahir's climate. It is forested, but no where near as densely as Kahir. Some of the same plants and animals may be found there as well. This southern section of Vendus is it's most populated area, having a major trade city on it's eastern tip. Vendus has the highest biological diversity of all of Samar's regions, with Figan coming in second.

Day 1: World

(this is for the TIGSource World Building Challenge, found here.)

Many a mystery it is, the origin of our world.

However the origin of Valga is not a mystery, for at this very moment it has been conceived from the furnace and bellows of my intellect-- Get to the point, you say? What? Blasphemy.


In the beginning, there was nothing. Yet, also everything. The universe, known to the people as Va'lun, yet existed in it's perfect, wholesome state. Yes, Va'lun was perfect... then. The seven original beings, known to the people of Valga as gods, inhabited Va'lun. Of the seven gods were Vaati, Venci, Maya, Ooin, Koren, Jalga(pronounce the J as a Y), and Horan, all who will be introduced later.

The gods, put in simple terms understandable for your meager brain, were bored. And furthermore, they did not get along. After unquantifiable stretches of time, their quarrels met end with compromise. They agreed to separate from each other. Each god left to exist in their own plane of the universe, which today are the seven planes of Va'lun.

However, this separation sanctioned further boredom. To alleviate boredom, the gods all eventually began tapping into the powers of the void, Vanir. In the universe, there is nothing, yet also everything. The ultimate sum of all matter in Va'lun is zero. Tapping into the Vanir allows one to control the universal existence of all matter, manipulating what exists and does not exist beyond the laws of physics as we know them. Some call this black magic.

Eons then passed, and the gods had so heavily used Vanir, irresponsibly, that pockets of negative matter existed scattered about throughout Va'lun. And then the goddess Maya made a grave mistake, attempting to clean out negative matter, they offset the universe's balance. The matter count was no longer zero. In an infinite instant the matter, the world, and the heavens compacted into an infinitely tiny and infinitely massive sphere. The gods were crushed, quite literally. With the last bit of their life force, they agreed to surrender their crushed bodies to circumvent their doom and restore the zero-balance of Va'lun.

It happened, and they died.

In the next infinite instant, the universe exploded and expanded infinitely to create existence as is now known. The gods were not entirely dead, they yet existed as ghosts--Omnipresent spirits which only managed a meager half-existence. With the final remains of their power, the gods put forth a plan. They would create a world which would self cultivate. It would live, flourish, and grow on it's own. And it would be given one ultimate goal--The resurrection of the gods.

This world, of course, was Valga. Vaati, with her expert analytical abilities, identified the best hunk of rock she could, shaped it into a sphere, and flooded it with water. Venci, with his burning tenacity, shaped the land of the world, set it's core ablaze, and gave it's tectonic planes their first, infinite push. Maya, ever so sorrowful for her mishaps, created weather cycles and the first forces of nature. Ooin, with his careful and deliberate touch, created the first non animal life forms. Then Koren, a master of mediation, created the first language and left scrolls of immense knowledge for the emissaries they would create. Jalga, then, with her careful and loving attention, created the first animal as a derivative of Koren's first creation, which would form the base for all other animals. Then finally, Horan, who spent the last remnants of his energy casting his soul into the earth, so he could ever-so-deliberately track and guide the progress of life toward their ultimate goal.

This was, and is, Valga. It's relatively small, compared to our planet. Do not fret, though, for in the coming weeks you shall learn the true meaning of "big things come in small packages.", for the world of Valga is yet vast and bountiful.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Hi internet, it's been a while.
So it seems, after all, that the world did not end at the split infinity of a second following the end of December 31st, 2011.

Fun fact: This year, 2012, will end on a Monday. Today is Sunday. Is that relavant? I don't think so, actually.

I'll be taking a slightly different direction with my "hello, new year!" post than everyone else probably is. I don't want to summarize my year of 2011. I don't want to reminisce or some crap like that. Instead, now is a perfect opportunity to reflect on my faults and what I did wrong, for it is in your own faults that you may eventually find the way to a better self.

I spent way too much time doing nothing.

When I say "nothing", though, I don't mean I loafed around being entirely unproductive, although I admit there was quite a bit of that as well. What I mean is that I spent too much time trying to be productive and not being productive. I would agonize over a careful plan in my head, trying to come up with a perfect solution to a problem. I told myself I didn't do this, too. Yes, I denied that I did this to myself, which I now see fed the problem due to my own denial.

And then I was too inhibited. I often let inhibitions, reservations, fears, doubts, pressures, etc. overcome me and reduce me to an unproductive whiner machine. And trust me, I whined to myself a lot. Spending too much time being inhibited by these feelings further fed the problem because I was not able to get anything done. I didn't deal with these problems, and they self-perpetuated. Just how it goes, I guess.

I also let my doubts maim my confidence. Confidence is a surprising key to creating good work. Sometimes someone can have the potential within themselves to do great things, they just need the confidence--the belief in themselves--to realize it. For a long time I confused confidence with arrogance, I must confess. But now I see the difference.

Upon reflection, it's apparent to me that these problems were not separate, and such is the way of things. I felt that, recently, as I identified and attempted to deal with one of these problems, the others would lessen too. The connection was obvious.
Ultimately though my problems manifested into a boulder. But it was not just any boulder, it was a boulder I drug with me on my shoulders. Not only did it slow me, but it fatigued me and drained me. And now I'm casting off this boulder. I'll always remember the boulder, though. I'll remember my experiences with it, so that in the future I know not to put another boulder on my shoulders, because I know how badly it affects me.

Peace out, internet.
Have a great year.
I hope you may all realize your flaws,
and overcome them.